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Our ByLaws (Revision in Process)

Back in October of 2016, the Board of Directors created a ByLaws Committee for the purpose of reviewing and revising PFLAG Orlando & Central Florida’s original ByLaws, in order to bring them up-to-date with today’s best business practices for non-profits and technology usage. The committee’s final draft was completed in April 2017 and presented (emailed) to the Board of Directors. Our first Special Meeting is scheduled in mid-June; this is a very tall order so it may take multiple meetings, over the next couple of months, to finalize and approve new ByLaws.  We’ll keep you informed and notify our members, once everything is in order.

Thanks,
Jerry Collins
President, Board of Directors

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PFLAG Chapters Respond to Orlando

RE-POSTED FROM: https://www.pflag.org/news/pflag-orlando

In the midst of profound tragedy, we find hope. Numerous PFLAG chapters across the country – and, in fact, around the world—have been holding vigils and support meetings in response to the June 12th shooting in Orlando, which targeted LGBTQ people, primarily of Latinx descent. We have received multiple emails from individuals and groups in different cities inquiring about starting new chapters, inspired in the wake of horror to learn what they can to help, to stand up against hate and violence and systems of oppression with a renewed sense of urgency, to show greater support for LGBTQ and Latinx individuals.

In these times we learn our resilience. We remember how important our voices are. We honor the voices and lives of 49 beautiful and strong human beings.

Speaking up takes courage. Staying committed in the most difficult hour takes a whole lot of brilliant courage. PFLAG is love in action, so let that love be louder than hate, stronger than discrimination, more forceful than anything which tries to threaten our unity. Your love is overcoming hate. Your love is reclaiming safe spaces temporarily lost. You prove the power of family and allies. You—all our LGBTQ and allied family—are worth it; the movement is worth it.

Chapters in at least 40 states and Puerto Rico involved in vigils, fundraisers, and other events responding to Orlando. 67 U.S. chapters and counting have participated in at least as many events. At least half of those events were organized or co-hosted by PFLAG chapters. Even more events have been held by PFLAG chapters in other countries.

Here is a list of recent vigils and events that highlight how extraordinary our PFLAGers are, how bold and courageous, how full of the loudest love. Thank you for your compassion and solidarity.

Some highlights:

  • What happened in Orlando has served as a “call to action” for many chapters. A group in Prince Edward Island, Canada, was so affected they planned a meeting to reorganize after inactivity for some time.

  • Chapters in cities like El Paso have organized interfaith discussions with their communities to reiterate the call to unity between different faiths and demographics affected in the aftermath of Orlando.

  • PFLAG Skagit, Washington, organized a film screening of a documentary called “Puzzles” which details a small community’s response to shooting at a gay bar. Local activists held a discussion following.

  • Many PFLAG chapters organized events have taken place with “site” as a primary focus – in other LGBTQ clubs, in parks and other local spaces significant to the histories of LGBTQ communities in those cities. Denver chose Cheesman Park, an area significant to their local LGBTQ history. The group in Skagit also organized a vigil at Maiben Park in Burlington, a significant site for its history of violence and chosen as an act of creating “positive stories” in a space of turmoil. I find these accounts particularly moving because there has been a lot of discourse about the shooting at Pulse as an attempt to steal a vital safe space from the LGBTQ and Latinx community. Events like the aforementioned stake a claim to culturally designated safe spaces and serve to transform spaces in a positive way – a symbolic reversal of the shooter’s act in Orlando.

  • Numerous chapters are organizing Pride marching groups and events with support for Orlando as primary focus. Many have seen a rise in participation at such events. PFLAG San Juan, Puerto Rico, for example, organized a marching group for June 26th at their local Pride, wore all white in a show of solidarity, and brought white balloons to carry as tribute to the Orlando victims.

Florida

  • PFLAG Orlando has been involved in a number of vigils and is working tirelessly to support their community and share resources for coping in the aftermath of the shooting at Pulse. This incredibly strong PFLAG chapter also attended a vigil at Lake Eola at sunset, where over 50,000 were in attendance; as well as a fundraising event at Scorpion Club in Orlando along with PFLAG Tampa Hispano. Tampa and Tampa Hispano also hosted a Drag Queen Bingo event together which raised over $1500 and participated in an Ybor City vigil which drew thousands. PFLAG of Polk County convened their monthly meeting at a candlelight vigil in Lakeland which included a release of 49 doves in honor of the 49 lives lost on Sunday morning. We would like to give special thanks and encouragement to our incredible PFLAGers in Orlando at the center of this tragedy who are working tirelessly to keep hope and compassion abundant in their city.

Puerto Rico

  • As mentioned above, PFLAG San Juan, Puerto Rico, organized a marching group for June 26th at their local Pride, wore all white in a show of solidarity, and brought white balloons to carry as tribute to the Orlando victims.

Alabama

  • Anniston PFLAG hosted a vigil the evening of June 12th at the Oxford Civic Center. PFLAGers offered rainbow ribbons to people as they arrived. They carried signs, candles, rainbow flags. They embraced one another with a sense of grief and a sense of perspective. PFLAG member Melissa Miles called those present that night family. And thus continued, “We lost so many members of our family even though we may have never met them. It hurts our souls that these beautiful people are gone.” Earlier this year, a bill was temporarily passed that would have meant jail for a trans person who used a bathroom aligned with their gender identity. Perhaps this night the LGBTQ and ally community regained some sense of unity, even in tragedy.

Alaska

  • PFLAG Fairbanks co-hosted a fundraiser on July 8th called Art Battle 4 Orlando which will bring together artists from the community to make art on-site with found objects for a grand prize.  Finished works will be auctioned off at a local Pride event, with all proceeds going to the Orlando Victims Fund.

Arizona

  • PFLAG Sedona organized a few vigils, including a multifaith vigil and open discussion on June 13th at Church in the Red Rocks to process the events in community. Sedona has also been involved with Operation Orlando, a fundraiser springing from the inspiration of a local woman, Dana Long, to help Orlando victims, friends and families.

  • PFLAG Yuma has offered their own phone line to the community for support after Orlando, attended a local vigil, and have offered advice and encouragement through social media and press outlets. Their president James Hargrave assures on behalf of his chapter, “We’re continuously sending out the message that the LGBTQ community is not alone.”

Arkansas

  • PFLAG NW Arkansas leadership spoke at a vigil in Springdale, Arkansas, in tribute to Orlando victims and those in the community struggling in the wake of the shooting. The service was performed in both English and Spanish. One of the speakers said this was the first public support meeting for the LGBTQ community to be held in Springdale.

California

  • PFLAG San Francisco–the city where so many important fights in the history of LGBTQ rights have been fought grieves heavily for Orlando and the LGBTQ community around the world. Rainbow flags flew in the Castro at half-mast. Our PFLAG team offered their support, solidarity, and tears at area vigils and in specially held times of support and safety for those now struggling in the aftermath of the Pulse tragedy.

  • PFLAG Los Angeles has been vigilant in providing support to their area and urging those who can to find ways to help the Pulse shooting families and victims. Their monthly meeting focused on dealing with the tragedy, and they have attended and promoted a number of LA vigils together.

  • PFLAG Oakland/East Bay held a special support meeting to grieve and process Orlando together as family.

  • In response to the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub, PFLAG Santa Barbara members got together and organized an interfaith discussion that night with the community. This chapter has been intent on getting involved with a number of vigils as well as another interfaith pride event called Love. Period. later this year.

  • PFLAG Bakersfield held a successful fundraiser, and staff spoke at a vigil attended by hundreds and held June 15th at Bakerfield’s own LGBTQ safe space, Casablanca Night Club. VP Peterson offered: “The LGBTQ community is grieving, a lot of people are angry, upset and it was important to come out and show support to those people who are upset.”

  • PFLAG Eureka-Arcata gathered Sunday afternoon following the attack for a Pride Picnic – refusing to be intimidated by the morning’s events. President Roble found it even more vital to have the picnic, to still be able to find cause to stand proud despite turmoil. “We don’t want to let things happen in the community and make us stop,” he said. “We also wanted a place for people to come and not be alone.”

  • After organizing one vigil which became a profound evening for solidarity and empowerment after Orlando, PFLAG Temecula planned another for July 4th to pointedly stand for LGBTQ freedom and protection on Independence Day.

  • PFLAG Napa also brought together a WeAreOrlando group to march at the Napa Valley Fourth of July parade, as well as organized a meeting on June 14th as a call to peace and action following Orlando.

Colorado

  • PFLAG Denver, Colorado held a candlelight vigil for Orlando victims to show solidarity and promote healing on June 13, 2016 at Cheesman Park, a site chosen for its historic significance to the Denver LGBTQ community. There were over 2,000 in attendance at this moving event.

  • PFLAG Greeley organized a peace vigil for Orlando in partnership with a local church to honor the victims and survivors and address community prejudices.

Connecticut

  • Emboldened by hearing of the tragedy in Orlando, PFLAG Hartford organized a group to march at NYC Pride in support of the healing LGBTQ community. Members PFLAG Southwestern CT joined their initiative.

Georgia

  • PFLAG Atlanta recently participated in a vigil at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Atlanta PFLAG parents also got involved with a fundraiser featuring the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus. From their facebook page: “Our struggle continues – till each mind, heart and soul is touched by how much we love our gay AND straight, cisgender AND transgender children.”

  • PFLAG Brunswick organized a vigil one week from the day we learned about the Orlando shooting. An article by the Brunswick News described the event beautifully: “Instead of letting anger and frustration about the hate crime bubble up and stay on the forefront, local members of the Brunswick chapter of PFLAG and religious community are instead turning in the opposite direction. They are embracing the spirit of unity, fully putting into force a mission to support and advocate on behalf of the parents, families and friends of those in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, in this time of terror and confusion.” Concerning the vigil, president Emmi Doucette also remarks, “There is a desperate need for the community as a whole, but specifically the LGBTQ community, to feel safe, protected, loved, and cared for. This vigil not only shows our compassion for the Orlando victims, but also shows our local LGBTQ community that this type of violence is not and will not be tolerated.”

Hawaii

  • PFLAG Kauai members organized a vigil on the beach on June 17th as a tribute, as well as a “story group” to discuss, share, and process the shooting. Storytelling is an essential way we support each other as allies and LGBTQ folks, and a vital aspect of PFLAG’s activity. PFLAG members were also involved with Lei of Aloha for Orlando, a project which involved weaving a mile-long lei—decorated with 49 shells bearing the names of those who died in the shooting—as an expression of solidarity and aloha from their city to Orlando.

Idaho

  • PFLAG Sandpoint organized a vigil for their community to stand by Orlando and stand together.

Illinois

  • PFLAG Chapters organized a number of candlelight vigils across Illinois. Charleston met at Coles County Courthouse on June 16th “to mourn the loss of life and to call for an end to violence and intolerance.” Downers Grove also hosted a memorial which involved a creative tribute.

Indiana

  • At their local Pride march, PFLAG of Hanover/Madison entered a float with Orlando in mind which was adorned with the names of all Pulse tragedy victims.

Iowa

  • On the evening of June 12th PFLAG Des Moines attended a vigil at the state capitol and marched to The Garden Nightclub, a local LGBTQ club, to join in mourning and remembering the Orlando victims and survivors.

Kansas

  • PFLAG South Central KS in Hutchinson gathered for a community vigil with candles and an open mic for those who needed to raise their voices and share their stories in this difficult time.

Kentucky

  • Louisville PFLAGers attended a local candlelight vigil over the Big Four Bridge on the evening of the tragedy.

Louisiana

  • PFLAG New Orleans have been involved in local vigils and leadership spoke out about the cultural repercussions of the Orlando attack on local media outlets. PFLAG Shreveport joined a candlelight vigil at the Caddo Parish Courthouse on the Wednesday following the Orlando attack.

Maine

  • PFLAG Houlton attended local vigils and sent members with banners to march in Bangor Pride Parade along with Jamie Curtis of PFLAG National.

Maryland

  • Many PFLAGers met in solidarity in Maryland. PFLAG Chestertown gathered for a vigil at Wilmer Park near Chester River on June 16th; Westminster have and continue to organize a number of vigils, and the earnestness of their response is evident in both action and word. From their blog: “We are the PFLAG family. We are here to offer ourselves as resources of support during this tragic time when people’s emotions and fears are heightened and may need us more than ever.”

Massachusetts

  • PFLAG Greater Boston attended a number of vigils, and PFLAG Cape Cod co-organized a solidarity vigil along with other local organizations on June 15th, urging the community to take action for LGBTQ-related issues. Area PFLAGers also held a balloon release over the bay.

Michigan

  • Our Detroit chapter worked with Affirmations, a local organization for LGBTQ people and allies, to bring a vigil to the Detroit area in memoriam. Over 500 people showed up to stand with them in power.

Mississippi

  • PFLAG Oxford/North Mississippi sponsored a candlelight vigil at Lamar Park on June 14th to show support for victims and and solidarity with local LGBTQ and Latinx communities.

Nebraska

  • PFLAG Omaha held an additional support meeting for those struggling in the aftermath of Orlando and were also involved in a vigil at a local church.

Nevada

New Jersey

  • Collingswood has one of the largest LGBTQ populations in South Jersey, and our PFLAG chapter there was deeply moved by what has happened in Orlando. Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley, one of the first New Jersey officials to preside over marriages when marriage equality was achieved last year, was present at a vigil with which the chapter was involved on June 14th. 49 white balloons were there released for the 49 victims. PFLAGers also contributed to another solidarity event the following Wednesday – “Stand Up Against Hate” – which also featured words from prominent officials and clergymen.

New Mexico

  • PFLAG Las Cruces organized a vigil the night of June 12th with over 100 in attendance honoring the lives of the Orlando shooting victims. Carrie Hamblen, PFLAG Las Cruces’ president, commented, saying: “Our role is to help the community — not just the queer community but the community in general — to recognize that we have to protect each other and we have to take care of each other, and we have to be aware of when somebody is getting hurt or threatened just because they might be perceived as different,” She continued that she also hopes these events spark a “critical dialogue” about LGBTQ issues in public spaces. Daisy Maldonado, an onlooker, described the event, saying, “Everyone in that group was acting in solidarity with actually not just the queer community, but with the local Muslim community as well.”

New York

  • PFLAGers in New York City were in attendance at a powerful vigil outside Stonewall, a landmark of the LGBTQ equality movement. Chants resounded of “Not One More”‬ and ‪”Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love‬.” Thousands gathered to show solidarity, and many remarked how humbled they were in that moment. This was a night to speak out against Orlando, but when the names of the 49 were read, all stood honorably silent.

North Carolina

  • PFLAG Greenville co-organized a vigil the night of June 12th which drew over a thousand attendees. The whole group marched with flags, candles, and signs to the town center where the meeting commenced. Rev. Rod Debs, whose church hosts local PFLAG meetings, spoke at the event: “We have all suffered since this crime. We are all the same, and yet there are so many beautiful differences in society.”

  • PFLAG Flatrock/Hendersonville president Rev. Jerry Miller submitted a touching call to unite in a guest column on BlueRidgeNow.com, appealing to the wider community to seek understanding despite differences in trying times. “These are people who are someone’s son or daughter, brother or sister, mother or father, partner or spouse…As members of PFLAG, I think that the best thing we can do right now is to seek in some small way to share their grief and to let them know that they are not alone.” The group also planned a vigil for June 16th, led by local clergy.

Ohio

  • PFLAG Dayton attended a public vigil downtown for the Orlando shooting victims Thursday night following the attack in Orlando. Chapter leadership spoke, including PFLAG Dayton president, Jan Couchman who encouraged: “Let’s hang together from here on out and make sure our brothers and sisters are welcomed and loved.”

  • PFLAG Oxford, Ohio, also hosted a vigil in the Cincinnati area in partnership with Miami University.

Oregon

  • PFLAG in La Grande co-hosted a multifaith vigil at a local church on the Friday following the Orlando shooting for a time of unity and reflection. “Each man and woman had a name and a face,” said Dave Wahler, president of PFLAG. “To lose sight of that is giving up our humanity.”

Pennsylvania

  • PFLAG Eastern co-organized a vigil in East Stroudsburg to join in saying “We Are Orlando.”

Rhode Island

  • PFLAG Greater Providence represented at a couple vigils for the LGBTQ community this past week, confronting intersectionality and standing in solidarity. In one of these, around 3000 attendees march to the State House steps in candlelight while singing “Amazing Grace.” PFLAG Greater Providence Chapter President, Sandra Richard commented on the heartbreak Orlando has caused in their community and offered encouragement through their regular meeting.

South Carolina

Tennessee

  • PFLAG of Middle Tennessee was in attendance at an event arranged by Tennessee Equality Project and Mayor Megan Barry for the evening of June 12th in Nashville. City Hall was lit up in rainbow colors in honor of the Orlando victims and support of the entire LGBTQ community. Barry remarked: “We have to respond to this unspeakable act of evil with an overwhelming show of the strongest, most transformative force that we know, and that is love. Only love can see you through times like this.”

  • A gay club in Johnson City called New Beginnings hosted a fundraiser to support Orlando victims and families, and PFLAG Tri-Cities joined in to help educate patrons about LGBTQ issues during the event.

Texas

  • Texas has been steadfast in standing up to hate with love. Immediately following the news, our El Paso Chapter organized a press conference to inform supporters about the events of Orlando and put together a candlelight vigil for that evening. They created their own GoFundMe for victims, made a beautiful creative tribute to the 49 victims of Orlando at their meeting, and organized a multifaith dialogue on coping with Orlando with Muslim and Christian faith leaders.

  • Longview, Austin, Seguin also hosted vigils. In Seguin, 49 paper doves were placed in honor of the victims, and attendees brought candles in memoriam. A PFLAG member shares of the event: “We will come together in their memory, and band together in solidarity to support one another. Although unknown to us, they were part of our extended LGBTQ family and allies, and were loved and had a place in this world. The horrific loss of their lives is a loss to us all.” Which is what has made these last days so very hard—PFLAG views our community as family, and we lost family on Monday morning.

Utah

  • Members of PFLAG in Provo spoke at a local vigil on June 13th at Memorial Park in an effort to bring the community together and speak out about inclusivity.

Washington

  • PFLAG Skagit hosted a candlelight vigil at Maiben Park in Burlington, a location significant for its history of discrimination-based violence, as an act of reclaiming that space and creating “positive stories” there. Skagit, along with Rainbow Alliance, hosted a viewing of a documentary called “Puzzles” which deals with a small community’s response to an attack at a gay bar—after which local activists gave commentary.

  • PFLAG Kitsap also co-hosted a commemorative vigil on the 13th and PFLAG Bellevue accompanied our chapter in Seattle at the vigil in Cal Anderson Park – named for Washington’s first openly gay legislator. Equal Rights Washington chair Monisha Harrell described the event well: ” Only love can bring peace, and look at this loving crowd we have gathered here today.” The vigil began in song with “We Shall Overcome” performed by The Seattle Men’s and Women’s Choruses. “I can tell you that our community is resilient and it’s often when times are toughest that we come together and find our community,” commented Ben Crowther, president of the Bellevue/Eastside chapter. Benton Franklin PFLAG has also been involved in community building through local vigils.

Wisconsin

  • The day after Orlando, PFLAG Door County announced a financial contribution to the Equality Florida GoFundMe, Support Victims of Pulse Shooting GoFundMe. Their statement follows: “PFLAG Door County is making a donation to support the efforts of the Orlando LGBTQ center, who are providing water and food to the long lines of people offering blood. They are also providing grief counseling and to help fund some of the funerals for those unable to afford them.”

Wyoming

  • PFLAG Jackson hosted a commemoration for Orlando victims at annual Teton Pride Picnic June 15th. This, like all Jackson’s activities, was intended “to promote the health and well-being of members of the LGBTQ community and their friends and family.”

Washington, D.C.

  • PFLAG National have been working tirelessly to cover Orlando, to show our support for Orlando, to each other, to the ally and LGBTQ family at large during this tragic time. Some of our members have been on the ground in Orlando working with local Latinx and LGBTQ organizations, have attended vigils in D.C. and around the country, and have been working with local chapters to mobilize in the wake of the tragedy.

 

PFLAG International

  • Vigils across the world organized and attended by our community display the impact of PFLAG’s mission. A vigil in Sydney, for example, drew hundreds and honored the Orlando victims powerfully through time of silent reflection. As per their website, this event was solely about those affected and grieving: “No political speeches. No grandstanding. Just the community coming together.”

  • Another PFLAG group in Wagga held a vigil to unite around the message “We Are Here.” A member described the evening as perfectly reflexive of the loss he was feeling.

  • PFLAG P.E.I. has been revitalized by the motivation to show support in light of Orlando. They are holding a meeting Saturday morning, June 18th, regrouping in Charlottetown at the Murphy Community Center. A positive repercussion of this tragedy.

  • Cobourg-Port Hope, another Canadian PFLAG chapter, was part of a vigil in West Northumberland, Ontario which proved to be “a strong support in local community” there. Vigils like this is evidence of the global effects of the Orlando tragedy, but also the continuing global impact of PFLAG.

  • PFLAG in Durham also hosted a vigil to stand together with Orlando.

  • As did PFLAG in York! They were very moved by the tragedy in Orlando, and the service they arranged was very moving.

  • The vigil co-organized by our Fredericton chapter also served as an opportunity to speak to press about LGBTQ issues.

  • Our Saint John chapter came together for a candlelight vigil on June 14th. Local newspaper The District News was so moved by the show of solidarity they were inspired to comment: “It is nights like these that make us so proud to be your community newspaper. We want to give the people of this city a voice.”

And so, we are grateful and proud for all involved with PFLAG who lift their voices in unity, in honor, even in grief, as we all heal in the wake of the Orlando tragedy.